My name is Juan Manuel. I am trying to write, mainly for hobby. I gravitate towards fantasy, be it classical heroic fantasy or modern settings where fantasy intrudes normal life. I am, however, ver critical of my own writings, and I don’t know if I should search for opinions. I found what I write cheap and ‘been there, read that’. I wonder if I should give my texts to my wife or some close friends for input, or is it better search for opinions of people not so closely related. Any advice should be really appreciated.
I wouldn’t seek input from a close friend or relative, especially if that person is not also a writer. Either they’ll like you to well to give you accurate feedback, or they won’t hold back and the relationship will suffer.
If you are writing in a particular genre, probably a good idea to find someone who likes and is well read in that genre.
This is advice that comes from someone who’s been on the journey. I feel that advice like this only makes sense to someone who has committed to the journey and has tried. Someone who has looked in the mirror. I love Stephen Koch’s book in the same way. And Philip Pullman’s, Daemon Voices.
One thing I found in my own writing was – writing. I learned that as I tried to write over two dozen other stories – and failing – that I was also learning writing. It is just like learning to carve in wood. When you first start, you have to make a lot of resources for the fireplace. But you eventually get something that you DON’T want to toss into the fireplace. Then the next step is to – keep writing.
The other piece of advice I have is to READ. You get so many different perspectives on how sentences are constructed, or how to describe something simple (as well as complex). I have read great, acclaimed fiction and fiction that is best read after it has been residing in the fireplace. Both help you learn, though in vastly different ways.
Finally, keep at it. Ask your family and friends and others if they write or know someone local who writes (or tries to write). Go to meetings of local writers or start one from the ones you meet. (See above). All this should help.
Oh, and one last thing – write.
I have been thinking that same thing lately. Mostly because I’m going thru my first long writing trying to get it polished and really ready. I have shown peaces of it to couple of my friends, but I’m still thinking that maybe they aren’t the best audience to give me feedback that I need. I have thought these writing sites where you can publish your writing and people can read it and give you feedback, but I have grown very carefull about what to put in internet because some time ago some of my poems got stolen and its really hard to prove its really yours. I got lucky that I had at least dates to prove that they were written earlier than my “thief” had put them on her own site. But that was only that. And I would have never know about this if someone wouldnt have tip me off.
But if someone has some experience these kind of writing sites where you can put your work in display to get feedback, It would be nice to know does it really work?
Here’s what I do. It’s cruel, it’s unrelenting, it takes a lot of courage. But it will change your manuscript drastically:
Invite friends over, ideally also people you don’t know so well. You should have at least 5 people, more is better. It should feel like a real audience.
Serve them some wine, give them something to nibble on.
Then read your book out aloud. Try to go as long as you (and they) can. While reading your text, totally naked (metaphorically speaking) in front of an audience, you will know exactly which passages are good and which need to be worked upon.
Then prompt them to ask questions. In my experience, you learn more from their questions than asking for their opinion.
If you dare to do this, your self esteem may suffer, but your manuscript will flourish – at least in my experience.